Max is one lucky dog. In Boulder author Jeffrey Bennett's three previous books, the pooch traveled to the moon, Mars, and Jupiter. This go-around, he hitches a ride to the International Space Station—and earns the title of first dog to visit the ISS.
The plot of Max Goes to the Space Station (Big Kid Science, November 2013) is sweet, albeit basic. Though the writing isn't particularly stimulating, the kids probably won't mind, and will get to enjoy the one-two punch of dogs and outer space. And parents will appreciate that the illustrations by Michael Carroll, a Littleton-based space artist, trade cutesy for realistic.
But the real value of the book lies beyond the actual story. An astronomer and teacher turned writer, Bennett includes educational sidebars on every page. As kids read about Max eating treats on the ISS, they'll also learn what it's really like to live in space (water floating in small blobs, astronauts tethering themselves to a wall to sleep). While Max is getting his "space legs," your little readers will discover why exactly people and objects are weightless in the beyond. The final pages also include supplementary activities you and your child can try at home or at school. We can only wonder where Max will go next...
Cool Factor: All of the Max books will be read aloud from the ISS in the coming months as part of a Story Time from Space program. Videos will be posted online for free use by teachers.
Follow associate editor Daliah Singer on Twitter at @daliahsinger.